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A day out “ruined by thugs in uniform”

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

We know that football fans face unique legislation and types of police restrictions. But has the situation been improving? One Derby County fan tells us about the policing at Preston away this month – would we see this at any other event in British life?

I am writing to share my experience of Preston away with Derby County earlier this month.

I travelled up with about seven other friends of mine. We’d departed early to make sure we got there in good time and could have a drink in town before the match. We decided to meet up with some other friends in a nearby pub but while we were walking there we must have been stopped by at least eight police officers asking where we were going, who we were and so on – somethingwhich I thought was a bit full on to begin with.

However, during the day things escalated quickly, within 30 minutes of us arriving at the pub we were absolutely surrounded by police at every entrance and exit of the pub.

They quickly moved in with cameras, pointing them at our faces and asking us who we were. I tried to nip across the road to the Subway when I was grabbed by the collar of my shirt and thrown back into the pub by a policeman. I had barely eaten all day and it seemed way too over the top to not let me, by myself, to go over to Subway, only ten metres away.

Anyway, we were forced to stay in this pub for a while before it hit 1:45PM, then all of a sudden a swarm of police moved into the pub and physically removed everyone and throwing them onto a bus that would take us to the game, and we would arrive a whole hour before kick off.

I said to a policeman, ‘let me at least drink my pint’ and his response was: “You don’t do anything without my ****ing say so, I dictate your fucking movements now get on the bus before I arrest you”. In those exact words. So we get to the game an hour early and obviously as soon as we got off the bus there were more cameras pointed in our faces and we weren’t allowed anywhere but straight into the ground.

Same story after the game. As soon as I mentioned that I was getting the train home I was crammed onto a very overfilled bus and forced to stand on the stairs of the double decker as there was literally no room for movement.

I had planned to meet my mate in Preston after the game for a drink, but as soon as I’d got off the bus back at the train station I tried to leave as I had a train booked for 7:30pm, and the time was 5.40pm.

Of course again I was not allowed to leave the train station at all and I was once again threatened with arrest as well as being forced to show the police my I.D, train tickets and everything else, before being shoved onto a train to Manchester when I needed to be going to Crew, about two hours later.

This completely messed up my journey plans and I was not able to meet up with my mates, simply because I was from Derby.

I went for a good day out and it ended up being ruined by those thugs with uniforms on.

I feel like more of a criminal every single time I go to watch my local team play up and down the country.

Watching Football Is Not A Crime! is part of the FSF’s ongoing drive to monitor the police in their dealings with football fans and work with them to ensure that all fans are treated fairly and within the law. You can contact FSF Caseworker Amanda Jacks via:

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF. 

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